Luxury hotel project comes to fruition
'Four Seasons is particular,' Paterakis says of $130 million development announced today; Project includes 200 hotel rooms and condominiums
Rendering of Inner Harbor East shows (from left) Baltimore Marriott Waterfront and Four Seasons hotels, Spinnaker Bay apartment complex and Sylvan headquarters. (Hill Glazier Architects / September 3, 2003)
"It's not easy when you're dealing with the Four Seasons," said John Paterakis Sr., president and chief executive of H&S Properties Development Corp. and an equity partner in the project. "The Four Seasons is particular.
"We had to work with three architects, and they were their architects," Paterakis continued. "And they gave us three builders, and they were their builders. They wanted everything to be so perfect."
Robert Glazier, principal of Hill Glazier Architects of Palo Alto, Calif., admitted that the design of the development, to include 200 hotel rooms to be managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Corp., took some effort to come together.
"We spent some time touring the city and looking at the new and old buildings in the city," said Glazier, whose firm has designed eight of Four Seasons' 57 hotel projects worldwide. "We wanted to make it fit within the historic fabric of the city.
"Instead of an old building [look], we wanted to design a contemporary building that fits with the older buildings in the city."
Glazier said the 24-story, glass-encased hotel, which will give every guest a view of the Inner Harbor, will be constructed with such traditional materials as brick and steel. "We wanted to feel like it was being made today."
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley announced the agreement for the waterfront development, to be located adjacent to the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel, today at a news conference at City Hall.
Besides H&S, the other equity partners in the project are Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc. and Ronald H. Lipscomb, an African-American entrepreneur and founder of Doracon Contracting Corp.
Based in Toronto, the Four Seasons manages 57 hotels in the United States and across the world.
"The Inner Harbor East is viable, active -- and this project will connect it to Fells Point and Little Italy," O'Malley said, flanked by Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon and 5th District Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector. "In the face of a weak national economy, we are growing."
The development, to span 420,000 square feet, will be built in two phases. The first, to break ground next spring and open in 2006, is the 24-story hotel that also will contain 20 extended-stay apartments and 20 condominiums.
It also will include 25,000 square feet of meeting space and an 18,000-square foot spa and fitness center with a luxury pool. The hotel also will contain 25,000 square feet of upscale retail space, as well as three restaurants.
The second phase of the development, to span 18 stories, primarily will house 56 condominiums.
"Now you're seeing international companies who believe in Baltimore," said Michael S. Beatty, H&S's vice president and principal. He added that, as a development seeking to attract higher-end tourists to the city, room rates would likely range between $300 and $400 per night.
"It is a luxury hotel," Beatty said. "This just adds to the package that Baltimore has to offer."
The development, to be situated where the inner and outer harbors meet, is included in the state's enterprise zone -- which will qualify it for tax incentives -- as well as within the federal Empowerment Zone, said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's quasi-public development agency.
"We're confident that this team will be able to finance this development," Brodie said.
Beatty said that while the project's financing has not yet been solidified, he expects it to include some bank debt and equity. "All of these projects have been financed on the strength of the Paterakis family," he said.
The Four Seasons would be H&S' third hotel in Inner Harbor East. The 750-room Baltimore Marriott Waterfront opened in February 2001, two months after the 205-room Courtyard by Marriott began operation. Both H&S and Struever Bros. also are behind the Spinnaker Bay residential development at 801 Aliceanna St., which also includes Bozzuto Management Co.
As a minority investor in the Four Seasons development, Lipscomb will head a group of minority business executives who will hold a 30 percent stake. He has partnered with several other H&S developments in the city, including Spinnaker Bay.
Lipscomb also is involved in the redevelopment of the Railway Express building across from Penn Station in Baltimore, and Doracon is the general contractor on another high-profile residential project, the Zenith at 600 W. Pratt St.
"What makes the climate different [for minority entrepreneurs in Baltimore] is not laws and executive orders," Lipscomb said at the news conference. "What makes it different is that all the people in all the city agencies are challenging those who are coming forward -- challenging their ideas, challenging their way of thinking."
By doing so, he added, "They begin to think about new ways of doing things" -- even including minorities as equity partners in development projects. "When people are challenged, they become great thinkers and great leaders."
Lipscomb said he will be meeting with those interested in joining the consortium within two months to discuss financing and other issues. "We have to make sure this works as a business investment, too."